Coriandrum sativum (Jansen, 1981)

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Capsicum annuum
Jansen, Spices and medicinal plants in Ethiopia
Coriandrum sativum (Jansen, 1981)
Cuminum cyminum


2.5 Coriandrum sativum L.

Coriandrum: old Latin plant name, derived from the Greek plant name koriannon, which word is related to the Greek word 'koris' = 'bedbug'. This word alludes to the unpleasant bedbug-like smell of the unripe fruits.

sativum: related to Latin 'serere' = 'to sow, to plant, to cultivate'; grammatically the root of 'sere re' is 'sat', so the meaning is sown, planted, cultivated.

Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. ed. 1: p. 256 (1753).

Type: 'Coriandrum fructibus globosis'. 'In hortis Misniae, Daniae &c'. Burser herbarium vol. 8, no 38 (UPS, lecto., microfiche !).


  • Coriandrum majus Gouan, Hort. Monsp.: p. 145 (1768).
  • Coriandrum diversifolium Gilib., FI. lithuan. 2: p. 26 (1782).
  • Coriandrum globosum Salisb., Prodr.: p. 166 (1796).
  • Coriandrum melphitense Ten. & Guss., Ind. sem. Horti Neap.: p. 3 (1837).
  • Selinum coriandrum E. K. L. Krause, in: Sturm, FI. Deutsch!. ed. 2, 12: p. 163 (1904).


  • 1830: De Candolle, Prodr. 4: p. 250. (tax.)
  • 1847: Richard, Tent. fl. Abyss. 1: p. 334. (tax.)
  • 1866: Alefeld, Landwirthschaftliche Flora: p. 165. (tax.)
  • 1872: Boissier, Flora Orient. 2: p. 920-921. (tax.)
  • 1874: Flückiger & Hanbury, Pharmacographia: p. 293-295. (use)
  • 1895: Engler, Pflanzenw. Ost-Afrikas & Nachbargebiete, B., Nutzpflanzen: p. 280. (use)
  • 1897: Drude, Umbelliferae, in: Engler & Prantl, Die nat. Pflanzenfam., ed. 1, B. 3, 8: p. 158-160. (tax.)
  • 1912: Ridley, Spices: p. 384-386. (agric.)
  • 1912: Chiovenda, Osservazioni botaniche, agrarie ed industriali, Monog. rapp. col. 24: p. 32. (use)
  • 1913: Kostlan, Die Landwirtschaft in Abessinien 1, Beih. Tropenpflanzer 14: p. 232. (agric.)
  • 1925: Thellung, Umbelliferae, in: Hegi, Illustr. FI. Mittel-Eur., ed. 1, B. 5, 2: p. 1071-1074. (tax. + use).
  • 1933: Redgrove, Spices and condiments: p. 236-245. (agric.)
  • 1934: Bois, Les plantes alimentaires chez tous les peuples et à travers les âges, 3, Plantes à épices, à aromates, à condiments: p. 169-170. (agric. + use)
  • 1946: Baldrati, Pian te officinali dell' Africa orientale, Centro Studi Colon. 32: p. 62-63. (use) 1950: Baldrati, Trattato delle coltivazioni tropicali e subtropicali: p. 202-204. (agric.)
  • 1957: Mensier, Dictionnaire des huiles végétales, Encycl. Biol. 52: p. 185-186. (chem.)
  • 1959: Cufodontis, Enumeratio, Bull. Jard. Bot. État Brux. 29(3), suppl.: p. 640. (tax.)
  • 1961: Joshi, These new spices will pay you well, Indian Fmg. 10(10): p. 26-28. (agric.)
  • 1961: Garnier et al., Ressources médicinales de la flore française, 2: p. 886-889. (use + chem.)
  • 1962: Note on the production of coriander, T. P. 1. report 66/62. (agric.)
  • 1962: Karsten et al., Lehrbuch der Pharmakognosie, ed. 9: 509-512. (use)
  • 1963: Siegenthaler, Useful plants of Ethiopia, Exp. Stn. Bull. 14: p. 8. (use)
  • 1968: Tutin, Umbelliferae, in: Flora Europaea: p. 328. (tax.)
  • 1968: Purseglove, Tropical Crops, Dicotyl. 2: p. 650. (agric.)
  • 1969: Rosengarten, The book of spices: p. 216-221. (agric. +use)
  • 1969: Parry, Spices, 1: p. 184-186; 2: p. 108-111. (use)
  • 1972: Hedge & Lamond, Umbelliferae, in: Flora of Turkey, 4: p. 330-331. (tax.)
  • 1973: Shishkin, Umbelliferae, in: Flora of the USSR, Engl. ed. 16: p. 132-133. (tax.)


  • 1974: Gessner & Orzechowski, Gift- und Arzneipflanzen von Mitteleuropa, ed. 3: p. 295. (use)
  • 1974: Harten van, Koriander de geschiedenis van een oud gewas, Lhk. Tijdschr. 86(3): p. 58-64. (agric.)
  • 1976-1977: Kloos, Preliminary studies of medicinal plants and plant products in markets of central Ethiopia, Ethnomedicine, B. 4, 1/2: p. 83. (use)
  • 1978: Cannon, Umbelliferae, in: Flora Zambesiaca, 4: p. 575-576. (tax.)

Local names

  • dembilal (Amarinia);
  • debo, shucar (Gallinia);
  • tsagha, zagda (Tigrinia).

Trade names

  • coriander (English);
  • coriandre, persil arabe (French);
  • Koriander, Wanzendill, Schwindelkorn (German).

Geographic distribution

Most probably, C. sativum is a native of the Mediterranean region, where it has been grown since ancient times. It is the oldest known spice. Cultivation of coriander is now reported from Argentina, Brazil, Burma, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Great Britain, India, Italy, Libya, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Rumania, Somalia, Spain, USA, USSR, Yugoslavia (Thellung, 1925; Redgrove, 1933; Cufodontis, 1959; Purseglove, 1968; Rosengarten, 1969; Shishkin, 1973).

In Ethiopia coriander can be found on almost every market. Small scale cultivation in gardens is widespread. Cultivation as a crop is reported from Eritrea, Hararge, Shoa, Kefa (in 1880 coriander represented 10% of the whole market trade in the then important trade centre of Bonga), Wollega and Begemdir (Baldrati, 1950; Cufodontis, 1959; Pankhurst, 1964; Centr. Stat. Off., 1970).


An erect, annual, entirely glabrous, profusely branching herb, up to 1.30 m tall, with a well-developed yellow-brown tap-root up to 15 mm diam. with many laterals.

  • Stem solid, sometimes internodes becoming hollow when older, subterete, up to 15 mm diam., sulcate, with a white bloom, light-green with darker-green ribs, sometimes violet-tinged or with some violet spots.
  • Leaves alternate, rather variable in shape and size, with a yellow-green, scariously margined sheath, surrounding the supporting stem for half to more than three quarters of its circumference; petiole and rhachis terete to subterete, sulcate, light-green; leaf-blade white-waxy, shiny-green, often with darker-green veins; the first 1-3 leaves above the cotyledons withering early, usually simple, with petiole up to 5 cm long and ovate blade up to 3 x 3 cm, deeply cleft or parted into usually 3 incised-dentate lobes; next leaves decompound, petiole above the sheath 0-15 cm long, blade ovate or elliptic in outline, up to 30 x 15 cm, usually pinnately divided into ca 3-11 leaflets, which are each alike the blade of the simple lower leaves or again pinnately divided into ca 3-7 simple leaf-like lobes; all higher leaves compound, the petiole restricted to the sheathing part only, the blade divided into 3 leaflets directly above the sheath, of which the central one is the largest, each like the leaflets described above or bi- to tri-pinnately divided into sublinear or subfiliform, entire, acute lobes.


  • Inflorescence an indeterminate compound umbel; peduncle terete to subterete, sulcate, glabrous, light-green, 0.5-15 cm long; bracts 0-2, linear or sublinear, light-green, 2-11 mm long, sometimes finely divided into filiform segments (like a small leaf); primary rays 2-8 per umbel, (sub)terete, sulcate, light-green, unequal in length, 3-45 mm long; bracteoles 0-6, linear, rarely lobed, light-green, unequal in length, 1-10 mm long; secondary rays 7-17 per umbellet, terete to subterete, sulcate, light-green, unequal in length, 1-5 mm long, usually each umbellet has male and hermaphrodite flowers, usually the male more numerous; the peripheral flowers and the central one are usually bisexual.
  • Male flowers:
  • Calyx: lobes 5, subsucculent, triangular, acute, light-green, ca 0.5 mm long, or, when situated between or near ligulate petals, the lobes are thinner and longer, up to 1 mm long.
  • Corolla: petals 5, usually all uniform, by inflexion strongly bicucullate, heartshaped, ca 1 x 1 mm, with an adaxial inflexed, slightly notched apex, white or pale-pink; sometimes in a peripheral position in the umbellet, one or two lateral sides of a petal forming a ligulate, obovate lobe, up to 3 x 2 mm.
  • Androecium: stamens 5, distinct; filaments filiform, white, up to 2.5 mm long; anthers dorsifixed, 2-celled, ca 0.5 x 0.5 mm, yellow, dehiscing by longitudinal slits.
  • Gynoecium: represented only by a white pistillode, ca 0.5 x 0.5 mm.
  • Hermaphrodite flowers:
  • Calyx: usually three subsucculent, triangular, acute lobes up to 0.5 mm long and two thin lobes up to 2 mm long, situated between or near ligulate petals.
  • Corolla: petals 5, white or pale-pink, usually two petals as in the male flowers (without ligulate lobes), one petal biligulate and its two adjacent petals each with one ligulate, ovate lobe of ca 3 x 2 mm (this lobe situated at the side of the biligulate petal).
  • Androecium: as in the male flowers.
  • Gynoecium: ovary inferior, globose to subglobose, ca 1 mm diam., 2-locular, light-green with darker-green ribs (sometimes older fruits becoming purplish-red before maturity); stylopodium white, conical, ca 0.5 x 1 mm with two elongate, diverging, white styles up to 2 mm long, usually slightly unequal in length, each with a semiglobose, minutely papillate, white or light-green stigma; the central flower of each umbellet is always hermaphrodite, resembling the male flowers but with a fully developed gynoecium.
  • Fruit a globose to subglobose schizocarp, ca 2.5-4.5 mm diam., brown to yellow-brown, with ten straight longitudinal ribs alternating with ten wavy longitudinal ridges, often crowned by the dry persistent calyx-lobes and the stylopodium with or without styles, not splitting at maturity, containing two mericarps that are attached to a straight, linear, undivided or only apically divided carpophore; the mericarps concave ventrally and convex dorsally; the concave side usually with two dark-brown, longitudinal, rather wide lines, representing the vittae.
  • Seeds: one per mericarp; testa attached to the fruit-wall, whitish to yellow-brown; embryo erect or slightly curved, up to 1 mm long, white, with two flat, thin, circular cotyledons and a conical radicle, embedded in copious, grey-white endosperm.
  • Seedling: germination epigeal; taproot thin, yellow-brown, with many side roots;


Fig. 6. Coriandrum sativum L. -1. habit flowering and fruiting branch (⅔x); 2. basalleaf-type (!x); 3. flowering umbellet from underside (with bracteoles) (2x); 4. flowering umbellet upperside (2x); 5. ligulating hermaphrodite flower (6x); 6. male flower (6x); 7a. non-ligulating petai (4x); 7b. non-ligulating petai (8x); 7c. petalligulating at one side (4x); 7d. double ligulating petal (4x); 8. fruit (6x); 9. seedling (⅔x). -1. Pl 1904; 2. PJ 305; 3-7. PJ 174 (spirit mat.); 8. PJ 701; 9. PJ 71 (spirit mat.).


hypocotyl ca 1-2.5 cm long, white, red-brown or purplish-brown; cotyledons opposite, oblanceolate, up to 30 x 4 mm, en tire, glabrous, light-green.

Taxonomic notes

(1) In Sp. Pl. (1753), Linnaeus described coriander as: ’Coriandrum fructibus globosis’, and referred to Hort. Cliff. 100, Hort. Ups. 63, Mat. med. 135, Roy. lugdb. 109, Sauv. monsp. 260, Coriandrum majus Bauh. pin. 158, Coriandrum. Cam. epit. 523. He copied the description from Hort. Cliff. 100, so his opinion about this species did not change between 1738 and 1753. In the Hort. Cliff. herbarium (BM) one ’Coriandrum sativum’ specimen is present; it is a fine specimen in flower", but it lacks fruits. The specimen in the LINN herbarium (No 363.1) and the three specimens in the van Royen herbarium (L) are flowering specimens too, without mature fruits. In the Burser herbarium, however, a specimen with flowers and fruits is present. As the descriptive phrase of the protologue is confined to the fruits of coriander, 1 prefer to designate as lectotype of Coriandrum sativum L., the specimen in the Burser herbarium, vol. 8, no 38, which is labelled: ’Coriandrum maius Bauh. Coriander. In hortis Misniae, Daniae &c.’.

(2) De Candolle (1830) distinguished one variety in C. sativum: var. ’microcarpum, fructibus dimidio ferè minoribus, foliorum laciniis tenuissimis brevibus’ (’microcarpum, fruits about half as large, leaf lobes very slender and short’). De Candolle was doubtful about the rank of this 'variety'; he placed a question mark before its name and wondered if it should be classed as a separate species.

(3) Thellung (1925) stated that two varieties of coriander could be distinguished on the basis of fruit diameter:

  • (1) var. vulgare Alef. (fruit ca 3-5 mm in diam.);
  • (2) var. microcarpum DC (fruit ca 1.5-3 mm in diam.).

Thellung distinguished also a form of var. microcarpum DC: f. melphitense (Ten. & Guss.) Thellung (quoted from Melfi, S Italy; this has umbels with only two, poorly fruited umbellets). According to Thellung (1925) the coriander from India and Morocco has large ovate fruits (6-7 mm long, 4 mm wide), and that from the USSR small fruits (1.5-2 mm in diam.); the German and N American coriander fruits have sizes between the large and small forms.

(4) The coriander from Ethiopia is rather uniform. The fruit-size ranges from ca 2.5 to 4.5 mm in diam. and thus would best fit var. vulgare Alef. ( = var. sativum). But as it is possible to select from almost any batch of Ethiopian coriander fruits a set of fruits which fits also var. microcarpum DC, the Ethiopian material does not allow distinction of varieties. Cufodontis (1959), Tutin (1968), Hedge & Lamond (1972), Shishkin (1973) and Cannon (1978) did not subdivide the species either.

(5) The Ethiopian coriander material includes a wide range of variability and could be used as basis for several cultivars. Characters like life cycle, disease resistance, stability, yield, colour and content and quality of essential oil would need to be studied during such selection. In the cultivated coriander at Alemaya, a remarkable difference in growing season was observed. The specimens SL 584, SL 1128, SL 1204, SL 1257, SL 1313 and SL 1392 showed a relatively short life-cycle, SL 1283 a very long one. Plants grown from


seed of the same origin at Wageningen and at Alemaya differed only slightly. The Alemaya plants were more robust and more branched and showed on an average two more flowers per umbellet.

(6) Hedge & Lamond (1972) reported Coriandrum tordylium (Fenzl) Bornm. as growing in Iran, Lebanon, Syrian desert and Turkey. This species has not been observed in Ethiopia. It may easily be distinguished from C. sativum by its fruit, which splits entirely into two mericarps at maturity, while primary ridges and vittae are absent.

The Linnaean Coriandrum testiculatum has been transferred to the genus Bifora.

(7) The description is based on the following specimens:

Arussi Baie Begemdir Eritrea Gojam Hararge Kefa Shoa Sidamo Tigre Wollega Wollo Grown at Kofale market: SL 1283 Goba market: SL 1221; Goro market: SL 1257 Gondar market: WP 4988-4989, SL 856, SL 872, SL 917; Infranz market: SL 835. Adi Caieh market: SL 900. Dedjen market: SL 768, SL 772, SL 774; Elias market: SL 796; Lumane market: SL 731; 5 km E. of Behar Dar, 11 °32'N x 37°23' E: J. 1. F. E. de Wilde 5788. Alemaya, College of Agriculture, cultivated: PJ 1346-1350, PJ 1362-1401, PJ 1481-1490, PJ 1497, PJ 1593-1594, PJ 1706-1711, PJ 1840-1847, PJ 1904-1913, PJ 2027-2034, PJ 2036-2037, PJ 2042, PJ 2076-2080, PJ 2757-2764, PJ 2831-2864, PJ 3091, PJ 3093-3110, PJ 3348-3355, PJ 3414-3432, PJ 4044-4051, PJ 4061-4068, PJ 4342, PJ 4511-4516, PJ 4791-4793, PJ 4822, PJ 5898-5900, PJ 6454-6456; Alemaya in garden: WP 716, WP 718, WP 1808, WP 2220, WP 3034; Alemaya in field: WP 683, WP 2335, PJ 7126, PJ 7226; Alemaya market: Bos 8070, Bos 8077, PJ 1166, PJ 5906; Asbe Tefari market: SL 6, SL 11; Assebot market: SL 706; Bedeisa market: SL 671; Bedeno market: SL 329; Chelenko market: SL 272; Dire Dawa market: WP 189, Bos 8360, Bos 8387, PJ 1038, PJ 1045; Feddis market: SL 165; Gelemso market: SL 628; Gursum market: PJ 4466; Harar market: WP 83, WP 4038; Harar, 5 km on road to Feddis: PJ 4433; Jijiga market: SL 363; Karra market: SL 584; Kuni market: SL 544; Lange market: SL 290; Moulu market: SL 447; Wotter market: SL 205. Agaro market: SL 94; Bonga market: SL 1413; Jimma market: WP 3274, WP 3290, Tadessa Ebba 544, SL 111, Bos 8626. Addis Ababa, near Univ. Coll.: W. de Wilde 9240; Ambo market: PJ 1221; Bulbulla market: PJ 3904; Debre Libanos, near old 'Portuguese Bridge': W. de Wilde: 8643; Kuyera market: SL 1204; Nazareth, garden IAR: PJ 2400-2405, PJ 3566-3572, PJ 4689-4695, PJ 4825; Shashemene market: SL 1313, SL 1725. Awassa market: SL 1322; Dilla, 8 km on road to Wando, in garden: WP 2828; Kebre Mengist market: SL 1347; Negele market: SL 1392. Axum market: SL 937. Dembidolo market: SL 1532; Ghimhi market: PJ 1180, PJ 1191 B; Nekemt market: PJ 1195, PJ 1199. Bati market: SL 1034; Dessie market: SL 1095; Haik market: SL 1182; Kombolcha market: SL 991. Wageningen WP 7136-7139, WP 7148-7150, PJ 46-84, PJ 128-129, PJ 139-140, PJ 173-180, PJ 215, PJ 298-305, PJ 327-339, PJ 394-400, PJ 538-543, PJ 555-563, PJ 572, PJ 587-588, PJ 591-592, PJ 598-599, PJ 606-628, PJ 659-684, PJ 696-711, PJ 750-754, PJ 797-799, J. van Veldhuizen 19-22.


The following specimens, originating from Ethiopia, were seen (all in herb. FT): P. Benedetto 162 (July 1938. Wollega-Sajo, Dembidolo ); R. Bricchetti 52 (Harar, 1889); W. Burger 2275 (28-1 0-1962. College of Agriculture, Alemaya); E. Chiovenda 1761 (3-8-1909, Gondar); Massa 813 (4-6-1936. Semhel); H.F. Mooney 9135 (24-7-1962, Addis Ababa); P. Rovesti 44 (12-10-1931. Asmara); L. Senni 1427 (7-9-1937, Milizia forestale, border of river Dsukan. Shoa); Tadessa Ebba 544 (19-8-1967, Jimma market).


Coriander can be grown under a wide range of conditions, from temperate to tropical climates, although in the tropical lowland it may fail to set seed (Purseglove, 1968). It thrives best on light, calcareous soils, but the crop will also grow well on loamy and clayey soils with good drainage (Redgrove, 1933; Garnier et al., 1961; TPI report, 1962).

In Ethiopia, cultivation of coriander is limited to the highlands (ca 1500-2500 m), although it can be cultivated in the lowlands if the rainfall is sufficient. According to Baldrati (1950), coriander can be grown in the same areas as wheat, barley, sorghum and teff.

Ramanujam et al. (1964) reported that Indian coriander was only ca 50-56% cross-fertilized, mainly by wind-pollination but sometimes by bees and flies. Because of protandry in coriander, one might expect a higher percentage. According to Chaudhry (1961), the stigma of the coriander flower remains receptive for five days but the pollen remains fertile for 24 hours only. The stamens of a flower emerge one by one (seldom two at once). If a flower opens before nine o'clock in the morning, all stamens emerge the same day. If a flower opens later, all the stamens are exserted only by noon the next day. The anthers dehisce within 2-24 minutes after expansion of the filaments, but if the filament expands late in the afternoon, dehiscence occurs after 1-2.5 hours. The dehiscence itself takes ca 1-6 minutes. Most flowers open in the morning. Hermaphrodite flowers usually open one day earlier than staminate flowers (Mayandi Pillai, 1939).

In India research has been done to investigate the nature of the sex expression of coriander flowers. The ratio of staminate to perfect flowers seemed to be influenced by developmental and environmental factors, but most probably also by genetics (Singh & Ramanujam, 1973).


Coriander is propagated by seed. It is usually sown in rows, at ca 2 cm depth, with plants 15-30 cm apart and 25-:75 cm between rows, taking 10-20 kg seeds per ha. In Europe, coriander is sown in early spring. In regions with warmer climate the best sowing time for rainfed crops is at the beginning of the rainy season (Ridley, 1912; Redgrove, 1933; Garnier et al., 1961, TPI report, 1962; Purseglove, 1968).

In Ethiopia, seed is sown at the beginning of the rainy season. Farmers usually grow only small plots, often along fields with cereals or mixed with them, where the density of the cereals is insufficient. In the open field, coriander is sown in rows with plants 30-40 cm apart after thinning and with rows 50 cm apart (Baldrati, 1950).


Photograph 7. Coriandrum sativum, detail of photograph 8.

In the Tinnevelley district of India, coriander is cropped in alternation with Pennisetum typhoides and with cotton, or intercropped with cotton or Phaseolus mungo (Mayandi Pillai, 1939).

Germination time depends on the availability of water. Seed sown at Alemaya (ait. ca 2000 rn) in March took ca 2 months to produce normal seedlings; sown at the end of May it took only 1 month. At Wageningen in a greenhouse (good water supply), it took 3 weeks. At Alemaya, full flowering occurred 2.5-4.5 months after sowing; harvest was possible 4-8 months after sowing. At Wageningen, flowering occurred 2-3.5 months after sowing and harvest was possible 3-5 months after sowing. In Europe, maturing takes ca 3.5-4 months (TPI report, 1962); in India 3-3.5 months (Purseglove, 1968).

The moment of harvest of the fruits must be chosen rather precisely. If harvested too early, the fruits are not ripe and have an unpleasant odour. If harvested too late, many of the fruits are lost as they shatter easily. It is recommended to harvest the fruits when they are fully ripe by taking the whole plant early in the morning or late in the evening (when there is dew). They should then be dried for some days in the shade or in the open field, and threshed by light beating of the plants. The harvested fruits should be dried thoroughly and stored dry (Ridley, 1912; Thellung, 1925; Redgrove, 1933; Garnier et al., 1961; TPI report, 1962). Yield varies considerably. Rainfed crops usually produce 400-700 kg/ha, irrigated crops up to 2000 kg/ha. Frosts may reduce the yield very much (Singh et al., 1967).


Photograph 8. Coriandrum sativum, flowering plants, PJ 1038.

In Ethiopia, serious losses of fruit were caused by infestation of a fly, most probably the phytophagous chalcid fly Systole albipennis Walk. This fly inserts its ovipositor through the fruit wall and lays an egg between the pericarp and the ovule. The larva feeds upon the embryo or the endosperm, and the adult fly bores a hole in the pericarp and escapes (Gupta, 1962).

This pest might be controlled biologically by parasites of the Systole larva such as Tetrastichus sp. and Liondontomerus sp. as well as by insecticides.

Several fungi are reported to cause diseases in coriander. According to Van Harten (1974) some of them are as follows:

  • A wilt is caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. coriandri. It can be controlled with fungicides.
  • A mildew is caused by Erisyphe polygoni. It can be controlied with sulphur.
  • A canker is caused by Protomyces macrosporus. Control is possible by burning the infested plants. After harvest, the fruits can be protected against insect infestation by regular fumigation for six hours with methyl bromide (Rosengarten, 1969).

According to Baldrati (1950) the production of coriander in Ethiopia is not sufficient for national comsumption. Imports, mainly from India by Indian and Arab merchants, who also control the price of the local product, supply the additional needs. Baldrati (1946) stated that the Ethiopian coriander was better in quality than the Indian product. The Indian and Ethiopian crop decreased in importance because


of the increasing are a cultivated with coriander in the USSR and in countries around the Mediterranean Sea.


Culinary uses

Coriander is mainly grown for its fruits, which have a distinctive fragrant adour and a pleasant mild and sweet, yet slightly pungent taste (Rosengarten, 1969). The dried ground fruits are a major ingredient of curry powder. Since ancient times, whole or ground fruits are used to flavour foods and beverages (particularly gin). Its range of utility as a flavouring agent is wide (pickles, sauces, seasonings and confectionery). The distilled essential oil from the fruits is used, for instance, in perfumes, soaps, candy, cocoa, chocolate, tobacco, meat products, baked foods, canned soups, liqueurs and alcoholic beverages and to mask offensive odours in pharmaceutical preparations (Ridley, 1912; Redgrove, 1933; Cufodontis, 1959; Rosengarten, 1969; Shishkin, 1973). After distillation of the fruits, the remaining presscake is said to be good cattle food, containing much vitamin C (Ridley, 1912; and many others).

Young plants are used as seasonings in chutneys, sauces, curries and soups (Purseglove, 1968). Young stems sometimes serve as a spice (Shishkin, 1973). Leaves are used as a vegetable in India, Somalia and Libya (Engler, 1895; Redgrove, 1933; Baldrati, 1950). In Ethiopia, coriander leaves are added as an aromatic herb to bread, 'wot' and tea (Kloos, 1976/1977).

In Ethiopia coriander fruits have a wide range of daily uses. According to Baldrati (1950) they are indispensable for the preparation of 'berbere', the pungent pepper powder. Washed, polished and ground fruits are a flavouring agent in 'wot', 'injera', cakes and, mixed with Ethiopian caraway seeds, in bread (Kostlan, 1913; Asrat, 1962; Telahun, 1962; Ketema, 1962; Siegenthaler, 1963). In Kefa Province, ground dried fruits, together with chopped green chillies, are added to cheese and eaten as 'wot' which is called 'diko'. The fruits are also added to a porridge made from Colocasia antiquorum as a spice (Siegenthaler, 1963).

Medicinal uses

Coriander is little mentioned as a medicine. In Ethiopia, fruits of coriander are used against stomach ache. For this purpose, fruits are boiled in water and drunk on an empty stomach (Asrat, 1962; Gelahun, pers. comm., 1976). The leaves are chewed to control colic and stomach ache (Kloos, 1976/1977). In Europe, the dry fruits are said to have carminative and stomachic properties. Powdered fruits or oil are added to purgative medicines to prevent griping. The oil or fruit powder may be added to unpleasant drugs to mask the taste (Ridley, 1912; Thellung, 1925; Redgrove, 1933; Garnier et al., 1961; Rosengarten, 1969). In folk medicine, the fresh ground fruits are applied externally to ulcers. In addition, they are a component of the 'Karmelitergeist', a liquid used externally against (articular) rheumatism (Gessner & Orzechowski, 1974). According to Garnier et al. (1961) oil of coriander acts like ethyl alcohol. Frequent use may cause dizziness.


Photograph 9. Coriandrum sativum, fruits (3 x), PJ 702.

In India a coriander decoction is the cheapest and most common household remedy for biliousness.

Chemical composition

According to Thellung (1925), fruits of coriander contain:

moisture 11-12 %
crude protein 11-12 %
essential oil 0.2-0.84 %
fatty oil 19.5 %
sugar 0.1-2 %
starch 10.53 %
nitrogen-free extract 11-13 %
cellulose 26-30 %
ash 4.6-5.3 %

The essential oil is isolated from the fruits by steam distillation, after soaking the fruits for 12-16 hours in water (Shishkin, 1973). The oil is colourless or slightly yellow. It has a finer odour than many other commercial essential oils (e.g. from Cymbopogon citratus) and can be used as a starting point for the manufacture of


many products (Scott, 1950). The essential oil content of the fruits is highest in Russian coriander; lowest in the Indian fruits. It contains ca 60-70% D-linalol (= coriandrol), ca 20% terpenes and traces of geraniol, 1-borneol and sorne other substances (Karsten et al., 1962).

According to Shishkin (1973) the remaining oilcake contains water 21%, protein 13%, fat 4%, nitrogen-free extract 21%, cellulose 34%, ash 7%. The green plant contains a different essential oil from the fruits. At flowering, the plant contains ca 0.12 %, at harvest ca 0.17% of this oil (Garnier et al., 1961).

According to data of Joshi (1961) the content of vitamin A in coriander leaves is 10 000-12 000 IU per 100 g.

The fatty oil contains ca 8% palmitic acid, 53% petroselinic acid, 32% oleic acid and 7% linoleic acid (Mensier, 1957; Garnier et al., 1961).